“There were moments where I felt a little sad and shy because I didn’t have the opportunities to break into the lineup."
Those are hardly the words one might expect coming from Mr. November.
But back in 2015, Portland Timbers midfielder Dairon Asprilla – in his first MLS Cup Playoff campaign with the team – was getting an opportunity to make an impression.
Though maybe not as famous as baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October" moniker, for Timbers fans, Asprilla and his "Mr. November" tag is well known for having an uncanny knack for helping out in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Whether it's his game-tying goal and penalty-shootout winner in 2018 against Seattle or his key extra time assist in 2015 against Sporting Kansas City to force the Double Post classic, Asprilla has come up big at the end of the year. The Colombian has appeared in 95 regular-season games for Portland scoring seven goals. In the postseason, however, he has four goals in 14 appearances.
Asprilla's late-season magic began in style in 2015. In the first leg of the MLS Western Conference Championship against FC Dallas, Portland was up 1-0 at Providence Park. Dallas was pushing for an opening when Asprilla, in the 53rd minute, unleashed a screaming shot that curled into the upper 90 setting off a thunderous cheer from the Portland faithful and a stylish celebration dance near the corner flag.
It was an audacious goal, but for Asprilla, it was also the beginning of a playoff habit.
"I’m finally getting the confidence from the coaching staff and I’m happy breaking into it," he said after the game. "I took the opportunity with the goal today and the performance.”
With Round One of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs fast approaching on Nov. 22 – again against FC Dallas – Asprilla's no longer shy and has the opportunity to continue the legend of Mr. November.